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Free groceries for those who needed it were distributed earlier this monthy after Grocery Outlet joined forces with Lund-Mark Inc.

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Newberg Grocery Outlet owner John Elliot joined forces with a commercial cabinet maker to distribute food to the elderly over the course of several days.

As the coronavirus pandemic began to worsen roughly two weeks ago, Mark Lundgren was looking for a way to help out senior citizens in the community. As the owner of Lund-Mark Inc. – a local commercial cabinetry company – he had the capital to donate money to worthy causes.

Lundgren approached the Newberg Fred Meyer store, but couldn't work out a way to donate there, so he met with John Elliot of Grocery Outlet. Lundgren agreed to donate $5,000 to Grocery Outlet for pre-bagged groceries to be distributed to those in need; the store kicked in an additional $500 along with labor.

Bags were distributed primarily to the elderly over the span of a few days, but other folks in need in the community received help as well. Each bag was worth about $25 each and each person typically received about three bags worth of items, ranging from easy-to-prepare food options to other essentials like paper towels and toothpaste.

"We primarily wanted to serve elderly customers," Elliot said. "Mark's wish was to help some of our elderly customers not have to get out into the public as much during all this. We opened it up to everyone who needed it and we used the trust factor to determine folks who would deliver bags to their neighbors.

"It was really fun for us to be able to continue our long history of serving the community, especially the elderly community. We extended the same offer to those in need, who need a bit more help or those who are immunocompromised."

All the bags were distributed by the end of the day on March 21 and so far this was a one-time thing. The impact on the elderly and immunocompromised in the community was palpable and Elliot said it brought him and his employees joy to help out in this way.

The credit, Elliot said, should go to Lundgren and his business for their generosity during tough times.

Elliot noted that Grocery Outlet is also taking additional steps to keep its community safe and help out the elderly. Every Tuesday, seniors get 10 percent off, a tradition started long before the advent of COVID-19. Since the pandemic started, however, the store has been taking additional steps to keep clean and encourage safe shopping.

Among the changes are required social distancing for employees, marked areas where customers are required to stand in line to remain six feet apart and the hiring of a janitor whose sole job is to sanitize the entire store throughout the day.

"We are very aware of what is going on and are taking the greatest of precautions," Elliot said. "We sanitize the store completely before we even open the doors. We are opening our doors at 7 a.m. with the intent that those who are older or more immunocompromised can come in when there are the fewest customers possible."

Those interested in making a donation to Grocery Outlet during this time of need, may call Elliot at 503-314-8486.


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